For years, executives in the American comic book industry have been guided by an unspoken and inherently flawed assumption that, at any given time, there cannot possibly be more than three female creators capable of writing comic books. While ludicrous and completely wrongheaded, it's the only way we can explain why there's so many talented female writers not gainfully employed in the industry. We assume that it's for this reason that the industry seems so backwards, sexist, and misogynistic. It isn't that they don't want to hire more women. They just didn't know it was possible.
That's why the latest press release from Dynamite Entertainment about their new Legends of Red Sonja prestige miniseries sent shockwaves throughout the industry when it was revealed at San Diego Comic Con today. The book, organized by regular Red Sonja series writer and current holder of female writer slot 1/3, Gail Simone, will feature at least eleven prominent and talented female writers from the world of comics as well as fantasy and science fiction novels, more than three times the number previously believed to be capable of working in the industry at any given time.
"I just don't know what to say," said DC Editor in Chief Bob Harras, whose idea of having a female creator write a comic book involves convincing Scott Lobdell to put on a wig and speak in a high falsetto. "I've been trying to fire Gail Simone via email for months now so we could bring another female writer into DC Comics, since Marvel already has the other two female slots tied up with Marjorie Liu and Kelly Sue DeConnick. I had no idea you could just bring more women writers in without getting rid of old ones. It's absolutely mindblowing."
"No, come on," protested Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics. "I mean, you're shitting me, right? This is a joke? No way."
We insisted that it was true, Dynamite planned to put out a comic with eleven or more female writers.
"At the same time?!" Alonso asked, indignant. "I don't believe it."
Believe it or not, it's true. With names like Liu, DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Tamora Pierce, Blair Butler, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Nicola Scott, and Devin Grayson attached to write the book, and therefore work in the comic book industry at the same time, readers are in for one hell of a shock.
"Whump," said Harras, who fell to the floor unconscious when we told him that even more female writers for the book were yet to be announced by Dynamite.
Now, we know that, here at The Outhouse, we have a reputation for being jokers, and readers might be tempted to doubt that this story is real, but let us assure you, we are not making this up. Over eleven female writers will work on the Legends of Red Sonja series from Dynamite Entertainment, and the world will not come to an end. Shocking, but true.
Here's the press release to prove it:
SDCC Announcement - Dynamite to Launch
Legends of Red Sonja Prestige Miniseries
Featuring Top Female Novelists and Comic Book Writers
July 15, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Following on the immense success of the newly launched Red Sonja ongoing series by Gail Simone, Dynamite proudly announces the upcoming Legends of Red Sonja prestige miniseries, an extravaganza celebrating the iconic fantasy heroine's long and storied career. Legends of Red Sonja is a collaborative effort uniting Simone with a star-studded and prestigious creative team including Marjorie M. Liu, Mercedes Lackey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Tamora Pierce, Blair Butler, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Nicola Scott, Devin Grayson, and more to be announced. Frank Thorne, one of the key artists responsible for defining the character's distinct look, will be among the artists to contribute cover artwork, as will Jay Anacleto.
"When it was first decided that I would be taking part in the relaunch of Red Sonja, we had what I thought was a very fun idea, which was to have all the covers and variant covers be drawn by top female artists," says Gail Simone, an industry legend with celebrated runs on Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and Batgirl. "The idea just took off, as some of my artistic heroes, people like Colleen Doran, Amanda Conner, and Nicola Scott all contributed these gorgeous, eye-popping pieces of art for the book. It made everyone tremendously happy and gave us a wonderful extra kick for our relaunch of this classic character. So when Dynamite told me that the 40th anniversary of Red Sonja was coming up, I thought, 'I wonder if we could do the same thing, but with all my favorite female writers?' I can't tell you how exciting this is for me, it's something I've wanted to do for years."
The structure of the Legends of Red Sonja prestige series will be, in Simone's words, "a braided story, with individual, unique stories written by titans of comics, prose, and the gaming world. These are all powerful voices whose work I adore. Dynamite asked me to make a list of the women I'd love to see included, and again, I was astounded at the eager responses! We have giants of the fantasy and horror prose world; Tamora Pierce, Nancy Collins, Mercedes Lackey, and Meljean Brook. We have some of the hottest comics talents; Marjorie M. Liu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leah Moore, Devin Grayson and (in her first published story as a writer) Nicola Scott. And we have brilliant writers from games and television; Rhianna Pratchett and Blair Butler. Getting to hand-pick this crew of fierce women was an absolute joy, and the fun of it is, we're all fans of Red Sonja, and of each other. Throwing ideas back and forth and shaping the stories has been some of the most fun I've ever had in comics. I can't wait for people to read these takes on Red Sonja...some are funny, some are scary, some are very different versions of Sonja than we are familiar with!"
Many of Gail Simone's hand-picked contributors have shared their excitement about the project:
Rhianna Pratchett (Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge): "I treasured my Red Sonja poster when I was kid. So to get the opportunity to write a story for the character, and to do it in the company of such extraordinary, talented women, is a dream come true. My younger self is definitely high-fiving my older self."
Leah Moore (Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery, Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon): "It's not everyday that Gail Simone asks me to write Red Sonja. To be honest, I'm glad, because when it happened, I had to be peeled off the ceiling. Writing Red Sonja has been a personal ambition of mine for a long time. She is about the most fun a writer can have. She's a loner, a grouch, a badass, and is apparently impervious to cold. I am almost too excited about this project to actually write the thing, which is counter-productive, really."
Tamora Pierce (The Song of the Lioness, Mastiff): "This is the coolest project ever: new stories crafted by some of the best writers and artists out there, about a woman warrior created by one of my literary idols, Robert E. Howard, spearheaded by my comics goddess, Gail Simone. I'm honored to be a part of this, and can't wait to see the whole thing. It will be a ground-breaking, multilayered view of a character who has been brawling through comics for decades!"
Blair Butler (Heart, host of MSN's Nerdcore): "I'm honored and exceedingly intimidated to be included in this group of talented creators. Gail Simone is amazing -- and her take on Red Sonja is something I've been looking forward to since it was announced way back at Emerald City Comic-Con. So when she asked me to contribute, I agreed immediately, even though I'm totally nervous about it."
Nancy Collins (Swamp Thing, VAMPS): "I am thrilled to have been chosen by Gail Simone to participate in Legends of Red Sonja. I remember how excited I was when I plucked Conan the Barbarian #23 off the spinner rack as a kid, all those years ago, and finally saw a female hero capable of dishing it out with the best of them. I am honored to have been given this chance to add to Red Sonja's mythos."
Meljean Brook (Iron Seas, Demon Angel): "I'm absolutely thrilled to be writing a story for the she-devil, Red Sonja. I first encountered Red Sonja in the movie with Nielsen and Schwarzenegger when I was about eight years old -- and I know that movie isn't without its problems, but it's almost impossible to describe how incredible it was to watch a film in which the heroine was just as strong and as tough as the muscle-bound hero. I loved that she was arrogant, skilled, and never wimped out or waited for rescue, and I immediately went out in search of similar stories about her. Red Sonja was a revelation to eight-year-old me, and I can trace many of the heroines I write today back to those roots."
"Wow. Gail and the editorial team at Dynamite have put together an incredible team of creators - a prestigious and impressive list - on a series that celebrates one of the strongest female characters in comics. I can say, that they have done an incredible job together, and I thank them," says Dynamite CEO and Publisher Nick Barrucci.